Wolverhampton vs Leeds United
Referee: David Coote
TV: BT Sport
Wolves host Leeds United on Friday night in a mid-table clash where either side could move into the top half with a win.
Both teams have demonstrated moments of excellence and moments of fragility this season, and their league positions are a fair representation of their inconsistent displays throughout the campaign. After a very poor December and January period, 12th placed Wolves enjoyed a more solid February. Narrow victories over Arsenal and Southampton came either side of a draw to high-flying Leicester. 11th placed Leeds meanwhile have exemplified their inconsistencies in recent weeks. Wins over Newcastle, Leicester and Crystal Palace all came at the expense of losses to Brighton, Everton and Arsenal. With seventh place and a likely Europa League qualifying spot up for grabs this season, a run of successive wins for either of these teams would put them in a fantastic position.
In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, a Raul Jimenez goal took the Wolves to a 1-0 victory at Elland Road. The absence of the Mexican striker through a fractured skull has hampered the Midlands club significantly this season, with the lack of goals hindering their progress over the winter months. However, a win against The Whites on Friday night would see Wolves win successive league games for the first time since October. They have a strong recent record against the West Yorkshire outfit too, having won their last four matches against Leeds in all competitions.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side come into this fixture just one place above their opponents, and the Argentine will believe a top-half finish will be an excellent mark of progress in their first Premier League campaign in 16 years. Sneaking into seventh place though is not a completely unrealistic target for ambitious Leeds supporters, and a win on Friday night will put them one step closer to achieving that.
Wolves will be missing Willy Boly and Daniel Podence, meaning Adama Traore and Pedro Neto will be supporting January signing Willian Jose upfront. The form of Traore has been a major concern for Nuno Santo this season, but given the injuries he has little option but to continue playing the Spanish winger. Portuguese duo Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho are set to partner each other once again in midfield.
Leeds are also missing several first-team players, with Diego Llorente, Gaetano Berardi and Robin Koch set to miss out. Mateusz Klitch and Kalvin Phillips will need to prove their fitness on Friday if they are to start in midfield, with the latter likely to miss out again. The attacking trio of Jack Harrison, Raphinha and Patrick Bamford have all impressed this season, and are set to the start together again.
Predicted Starting XIs
Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Willian Jose, Neto
Leeds (4-5-1): Meslier; Shackleton, Ayling, Cooper, Alioski; Raphinha, Dallas, Struijk, Klich, Harrison; Bamford
Score Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Leeds
Given the proximity of each of these sides in the table, it is a hard game to predict. Both sides will fancy their chances, and I expect there to be goals whenever Leeds United are involved. It would not be surprising if both teams were to cancel each other out, hence why I am going for a score draw.